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Ulysses by James Joyce

This free online course provides a detailed analysis of the stylistic features of the narratives in the novel Ulysses.

Publisher: NPTEL
This free online course examines a modernist novel – Ulysses, written by James Joyce in the early 20th century. The novel, which describes a day in the life of Leopold Bloom, is made up of different temporal narratives or a series of different stories criss-crossing each other. This course will explore the narrative style employed by Joyce in a novel considered the first of its kind by many critics.
Ulysses by James Joyce
  • Duration

    4-5 Hours
  • Students

  • Accreditation






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The course begins with some literary criticism of modernist and postmodernist fiction from the twentieth century. The focus of this course is on the novel 'Ulysses' written by the Irish author, James Joyce. The novel was first published in book form in 1922. It is an interesting retelling of Homer's epic poem, 'Odyssey', which was about a sailor – Odysseus. It uses symbols, characters and places to connect the mythical narrative in Odyssey with the modern story. The story is about Leopold Bloom, Stephen Dedalus and Molly Bloom and describes a day (June 16, 1904) in their lives in and around Dublin. Stephen Dedalus was also a character in Joyce's earlier work, 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'. Leopold Bloom is a Jewish Irishman, who works in the advertising industry; he is essentially a canvasser, and Molly Bloom is his wife. The lives of these three central characters are linked loosely to the characters in Homer's epic – Telemachus, Odysseus and Penelope. This course will discuss the stylistic features used in the novel in detail and help you gain a better understanding of Joyce as an author. You will learn about Joyce's writing technique and his use of metaphors with the help of certain selected passages from the novel.


You will learn about how some of the themes of modernism, the recursive themes of twentieth century fiction and so on can be identified in this novel. You will learn what the stream of consciousness technique is and how it has been used effectively by Joyce. The course explains how the mindscape of the characters and the landscape correspond with each other in the narrative in the novel, which is part of understanding the writing style. Polyphony and heteroglossia are two very important features of Ulysses. Heteroglossia means the presence of two or more expressed viewpoints in a text or other artistic work. Polyphony, in literature, is a feature of narrative writing which includes a diversity of simultaneous points of views and voices. As you go through the selected passages, you will notice many voices speaking together at the same time which creates a sense of a chaotic, unstable-like sequence in Dublin. You will also learn about the use of metaphors and political influence in the narrative. For example, a conversation with the milk woman is explained as being quasi-mythical and political in quality.


Narration and kinship are very interestingly entangled in this novel and as you learn about these aspects with the help of the reading of chosen passages, you will also understand that in this novel, it is difficult to map out the good from the bad, making it grey in nature. References to different kinds of mortality, mysticism and profundity are talked about in a machine-like, almost flippant manner and this gives a dark, comic-like quality to this novel. You will learn how this novel foregrounds the body, the bodily sensations and the different kinds of bodily functions, and makes them a part of its realism. Another remarkable aspect of Ulysses that this course highlights is that it is quite radical in quality. There is a discussion about Molly Bloom's soliloquy, which is the last episode in the novel, about how Joyce gives voice to a woman who is the central character throughout these passages. This is noteworthy given the particular time period. Today’s global and competitive environment demands good analytic, creative, and critical reasoning skills. These skills are sharpened as you learn to critique and analyse any published work, such as this. You will also learn about the creative use of language. Such skills will be useful for entering or growing in the media and communications industry. Those interested in research and pursuing any course in English literature will also benefit from this course. Ergo, be a smart learner and enrol for this free course.

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